Current and former Chihuahua governors Corral, left, and Duarte. Current and former Chihuahua governors Corral, left, and Duarte.

Justice officials move to extradite Duarte

Procedures to bring home ex-Chihuahua governor in final stage

Former Chihuahua governor César Duarte could be one step closer to returning to Mexico to face justice.

The federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) said yesterday that it will present three requests this week for Duarte’s provisional arrest in order to secure his extradition to Mexico where he is accused of embezzlement.

The fugitive ex-governor is also accused of illegally diverting funds to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Chihuahua in 2016.

Duarte is believed to be in hiding in El Paso, Texas, after fleeing Mexico in March last year to avoid possible corruption charges.

The Chihuahua Attorney General’s office has already obtained 10 warrants for the arrest of the former governor for the alleged embezzlement of 1.2 billion pesos (US $64.4 million) during his six-year administration from 2010 to 2016.

Acting Attorney General Alberto Elías Beltrán told a press conference yesterday that the PGR had received the 10 files and after analysis, determined to seek Duarte’s provisional arrest for extradition purposes.

“The federal Attorney General’s office is in the final stage of procedures to draw up the formal extradition requests . . .” he said.

The acting attorney general added that there are clues to the exact whereabouts of Duarte but didn’t specify in which country nor did he confirm that the arrest and extradition requests would be directed at the United States.

In a subsequent radio interview, Elías Beltrán said that he couldn’t reveal whether Duarte was in the U.S. because it would violate due process.

Two of the arrest requests will be based on state charges and one on federal charges in relation to an investigation by the Special Prosecutor for Electoral Crimes (Fepade).

The Chihuahua government claims that some of the money allegedly stolen by Duarte was used to fund the political campaigns of PRI candidates at state elections in 2016.

Current Governor Javier Corral has ramped up pressure on federal authorities in recent days to bring Duarte home to face justice. On Sunday he announced that he is planning a week-long protest march to Mexico City.

The National Action Party (PAN) governor has repeatedly declared that Duarte is hiding in El Paso and has also accused the federal government of withholding funds promised to the state in retaliation for its investigation into corruption during Duarte’s administration.

Corral also claims that the Mexican government has deliberately delayed its efforts to seek Duarte’s extradition.

Judges in Chihuahua have issued more than 30 arrest warrants against collaborators of the former governor and 15 people have already been arrested.

Alejandro Gutiérrez, a former secretary general of the PRI and a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto, was detained on December 20.

Gutiérrez is accused of operating the electoral embezzlement scheme along with former PRI president Manlio Fabio Beltrones. The latter has sought an amparo, or injunction, to gain access related to the files and to avoid arrest.

If authorities are successful in securing the former governor’s extradition, Duarte will join fellow former PRI governors Javier Duarte of Veracruz and Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo in facing the Mexican justice system on corruption charges.

Duarte was extradited from Guatemala in July last year while Borge returned home from Panama earlier this month. Both have been ordered to stand trial.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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